Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Grad student and scholarship recipient Abigail Rhodes affirms that learning never stops

Grad student and scholarship recipient Abigail Rhodes affirms that learning never stops


DECEMBER 19, 2022 — Abigail Rhodes is not your typical undergraduate college student. Mother of four and grandmother of two, she enrolled at UTSA to follow her ambitions of becoming an elementary school teacher after nearly 25 years in the finance field.

In 2019, she completed her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary education and is now pursuing her graduate degree in special education in UTSA’s College of Education and Human Development. Rhodes was recently awarded the Samjatha Govindaraju Endowed Graduate Scholarship, which is helping to fund her research and has given her the encouragement she needs to keep going as she continues to work and parent full-time.

Since graduating high school in 1987, Rhodes has worked for both AT&T and JP Morgan Chase. While her finance jobs treated her well, she was always interested in a career in education. Seeing her own son’s positive experience at UTSA and frequent visits to the campus as a Roadrunner parent, Rhodes decided it was the right school for her too.

“Receiving the scholarship gave me such a boost psychologically.”

Dedicated to always keeping her brain active, Rhodes says she lives by the philosophy: “You’re never too old to learn, but if you stop learning, you might just get old.” This outlook on life pushed her to pursue her education.

Rhodes, who admires people with special needs, focused her graduate research on language development and the different ways children with autism learn to read. Rhodes believes that children have to succeed at their own pace and that pushing students too hard can have detrimental effects on both their academic performance and their mental health. To make their successes possible, it is paramount that educators understand neurodiversity and the unique ways that children with autism view and interact with the world, she said.

“No one should just say that a child can’t read because he or she isn’t on a certain scale. All you have to do is slow down,” Rhodes explained. “Educators need to have patience and understand that everyone is different and should be different. Not everyone fits into a chart.”

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As she plans her new career as a teacher, Rhodes said she hopes to work in an inclusive classroom where students with special needs and those with typical needs learn together. She remains incredibly grateful for the scholarship support she has received from the Govindaraju family. It lessened the amount of her loans and most importantly, the scholarship has given her confidence as she pursues her education at a less common time in life than that of most college students.

“Receiving the scholarship gave me such a boost psychologically,” Rhodes said. “Of course, I have my family who are very proud of me, but to have someone who is a stranger show they believe in you and what you bring to the table—It means so much to me and shows me it’s all worth it.”

Jordan Allen

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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.



University of Texas at San Antonio receives ‘transformational’ $40M gift

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